This Man Took Steve Jobs’ Identity. He Didn’t Mean To.
1999 wasn’t exactly day one of the Internet. The dot com bubble was already blown up as big as Kanye West’s head and even Supreme Court justices were starting to use email. There was no Facebook yet, but Google was already in short pants. What we had was still Web 1.0, but no one really knew that. (It wasn’t until 2004 that the notion of Web 2.0 gained currency.) Still lots of people were beginning to understand there was new real estate to be had, manufactured out of–it seemed–thin air. The new properties were called domain names and speculation was rampant. In the last month of 1999, the domain name business.com–just the name, no underlying business–sold for $7.5 million. A time for visionaries to step in, make claims, steer the future, right?
Yet on December 21, 1999, Steve Kim–a young Korean man–registered the domain name SteveJobs.com, which was available because the guru of Apple Computer hadn’t yet bothered to secure it. (Nor had anyone in his giant company.) Mr. Kim still owns the property today. Was Kim a visionary? Or was he just a virtual squatter? After all, he acquired the primary digital identifier of one of the most famous names in the world. Yet like so much of what later passes for prescience, Kim’s purchase was an accident, really. Kim, it so happens, had “a job related to stock.” With his “English name” being Steve and his job in stock, Kim chose the domain by making “a combination of steve and jobs–stevejobs.com means steve job stock,” he told 2paragraphs in a recent interview. “It was only by the mid-2000s I got to know that Steve Jobs is CEO of Apple.” The site isn’t actively managed by Kim, who can’t afford to do much with it just now. (SteveJobs.com is currently a bric-à-brac of banal posts facilitated by the hosting company. It averages 15,000 visitors a month, according to Kim, but saw hundreds of thousands of visitors in the months after Jobs died.) Mr. Kim is looking for a buyer. You can call him on his iPhone 4.